Woodside is a small town in San Mateo County, California on the San Francisco Peninsula. It’s home to many horses and is among the wealthiest communities in the United States. Turning off one of its busy roads, a pair of house hunters drove over a bridge spanning a stream and discovered themselves a world away in a rural setting dotted with majestic oak trees. They were immediately enchanted and, as the husband says, ‘We entered our own peaceful retreat, leaving the Silicon Valley hustle and bustle behind.’ The decision to purchase the property and build a new home was an easy one.
With a 3-year-old son and twins on the way, the owners envisioned a casual, functional dwelling while allowing for entertaining on a large scale (their guest list for summer dinner parties can stretch to 150). They hired designer David Oldroyd from ODADA, the team at Walker Warner Architects and landscape design by Ground Studio to create a fresh, modern home incorporating living spaces with the peaceful setting to offer seamless and flexible indoor-outdoor connections. The residence is located in this magnificent, park-like setting and meets the clients’ desire for a family home that is stylish, functional, and adaptable.
ODADA is an internationally-recognised interior design firm with a diverse portfolio. Known for a clean, sophisticated aesthetic: a meticulously-edited take on luxury, it was also tapped to design model suites, lending its name to some of the country’s most prestigious residential developments.
Accessed via a long drive, the property had developed piecemeal over the years, resulting in an experience that was anything but peaceful. By completely reworking the site and blending the clients’ traditional and modern tastes, the design team created an evocative new home that’s nestled into the woods. With clean lines and a pared-down palette of cedar, metal, and concrete, this two-storey residence borders an open space reserve.
The home’s transparency and relationship to the land reflects the site’s expansiveness, which is evident upon arrival at the formal entry where guests can immediately experience the natural setting through seamless indoor-outdoor connections. Rooflines are stretched to protect the interiors from hot summers, while responding to forms prominent in the California rural landscape which served as design inspiration for the home.
Inside, the team created zones where family activities can happen in a communal way. ‘The home was organized into public and private zones,’ notes Mike McCabe of Walker Warner Architects, ‘with the family’s everyday living spaces easing into one another. The architectural intent was to provide a house that lives small day to day for the family but can expand to accommodate bigger gatherings and events.’ A mudroom with cubbies allows for easy organisation of family belongings while everyday casual areas for living, dining and cooking are immediately adjacent to the pool and terrace. ‘The private parts of the house are about retreat and family time,’ adds McCabe, ‘while the public parts allow them to mingle with their guests and enjoy all the site has to offer.’
Interior materials and colour palette complement the architecture and work their way throughout the house across a variety of different finishes. Stained wood plank doors were installed in painted frames with textural bronze hardware, gentle gray limestone floors were combined with warm walnut planks, and walls were covered in grayed white paint to create a feeling of warm modernity. The stone on the fireplace is the same material as the stone flooring but hand-treated in a brushstroke-like effect that lends the surface a light, elegant texture.
Simple sculptural shapes, textural woven fabrics, organic elements and a few accents of forest colours complete the marriage of inside and out. ‘Almost every piece of furniture has an angle or slope,’ notes David Oldroyd of ODADA. ‘But more natural shapes – such as the curvy chair legs or pebble-shaped poufs – bring in some softness,’ he adds, ‘the palette is inspired by what you see through the windows.’ David Oldroyd’s design philosophy is built on the modern re-statement of classical principles to create beautiful interiors that have an emotional impact on their occupants.
With the property bordering on the open space preserve, landscape designer Bernard Trainor of Ground Studio gently transitioned the manmade garden into the natural surroundings to trick the eye, making the property appear to go on forever. As with the architecture, Trainor’s approach to design was to deftly ‘thread the needle’ between the oaks. ‘Closer to the house, the hardscape and plantings reflect the house’s architectural shapes – more linear. As you move farther away, into the oak woodland, they get wilder.’ Overall, the residence’s indoor and outdoor design reconciles historic context, building constraints, and functionality, resulting in a cohesive and harmonious space for living.
While the home’s clean lines and a restrained material palette of cedar, metal and concrete gracefully weave the new house to its site, its sloped roof references the property’s past life as a farm. ‘This is horse country, and we wanted the new home to look like it belonged here,’ says the owner. ‘It’s a modern take on a farmhouse.’
‘The back entry brings the family into the mudroom and the heart of the home – their home offices, the kitchen and the family room – which are adjacent to the pool and terrace,’ says Mike McCabe. Meanwhile, the formal entry flows past an open staircase to the glass-lined dining area and living room. Upstairs is home to a family room and bedrooms, while the light-filled lower level is a ‘fun zone’ with a rec room, playroom and bar.
While the couple appreciates beautiful furnishings and textiles, livability was key. ‘I wanted our friends to come over and help themselves to the fridge and not feel uncomfortable putting their feet up on the sofa,’ the wife says.
Today, the family appreciates the quiet and convivial moments of magic the home and its setting offer. When the sun streams through the windows, you’re wrapped in a splendid light that’s filtered by the surrounding oaks.
Walker Warner Architects project team: Mike McCabe – lead principal; Greg Warner –principal; John Pierson – senior project manager; Rob Campodonico – job captain
interior design: David Oldroyd from ODADA
landscape design: Ground Studio
builder: Redhorse Constructors
lighting design: Eric Johnson Associates